Archive for category Musings
who I am
what I am
What is worse
the not knowing
or the knowing
for the knowing brings me
to a terrible choice
Did you forget too
did you not see my longing
the music of the eternal sea
reached my soul
did you not see the waning light in my eyes
the very light that attracted you
reflection of the wildness of my soul
were you content
are you content
just to keep me by your side
and tend the fires of your hearth
Was it a dream
was there a time in another skin
that I was free
to ride the waves
to join the laughter of the waves
and dive deep into
the unknown depths
when the mournful song
from the sea did not threaten
to overwhelm me
with forgotten feelings
a fierce hunger
for something unattainable
I thought it was but
an idle dream
Now that I know
I must choose
how terrible the choice
When I first heard the ancient tale of the Selchie spouse, powerful images filled my consciousness, and I wondered about Selchie Choices. The sea of course represents the unconsciousness in mythological and dream symbology. How appropriate the story of the Selchie for choices we sometimes encounter upon our path.
Choices once seemed so simple to make; so easy to decide what is right and wrong. However, when you know the full implication of where your choice will lead it is no wonder that the Sybil are often described as with “unsmiling lips”. To see beyond the horizon; to see the unfolding patterns throughout time, can be a heavy burden. Each way you turn involve risk and potential loss, and you know that someone will get hurt, and yet you know you must make a choice, for even if you do not make a choice, a choice will be forced upon you and you will not be able to live an authentic life any longer. If up to that point you have lived an authentic life, all your gains will be lost, and the fall will be hard. If you do not choose you will no longer really be alive. Yet, whatever choice you make, you must make it with the full knowledge of giving up a part of yourself. Anyone who consciously strives to live an authentic life will encounter it.
In Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflection”, the last chapter, “Retrospect,” I see a reflection of the Selchie Dilemma.
“ Knowledge of processes in the background early shaped my relationship to the world. Basically, that relationship was the same in my childhood as it is this day. As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know. Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. The loneliness began with the experiences of my early dreams, and reached its climax at the time I was working on the unconsciousness. If a man knows more than others, he becomes lonely. But loneliness is not necessarily inimical to companionship, for no one is more sensitive to companionship than the lonely man, and companionship, thrives only when each individual remembers his individuality and does not identify himself with others…
“But if a man faced with a conflict of duties undertakes to deal with them absolutely on his own responsibility, and before a judge who sits in judgment on him day and night, he may well find himself in an isolated position. There is now an authentic secret in his life which cannot be discussed – if only because he is involved in an endless inner trial in which he is his own counsel and ruthless examiner, and no secular or spiritual judge can restore his easy sleep. If he were nor already sick to death of the decisions of such judges, he would never have found himself in a conflict. For such a conflict always presupposes a higher sense of responsibility. It is this very quality which keeps its possessor from accepting the decision of a collectivity. In his case the court is transposed to the inner world where the verdict is pronounced behind closed doors.
The man, therefore, who, driven by his daimon, steps beyond the limits of the intermediary stage, truly enters the “untrodden, untreadable regions,” where there are no charted ways and no shelter spreads a protecting roof over his head. ”
The Selchie’s choice represents for me that very aspect, of the ‘daimom’ Jung spoke of, which represents for me personally the passion of my life. Without the driving force of my passion my life looses its meaning and like the Selchie I will slowly close down all my faculties, in order to bear the pain of ignoring the call of my soul. This is why I love Mythos as an expression; it can express multiple layers of perspective at the same time. A single symbol has multiple layers of meaning, from the most mundane, to the most profound of what we can grasp, at a given time.
It is the ‘daimon’ within those of us who strive to live an authentic life that eventually leads us to find our skins, and bring us to soul choices; which we cannot deny.
I see the moon reflecting on the mirror surface of the pool. A ribbon of cloth floats towards me. What bigger piece is it from? I feel its texture with my fingertips, run it across my face to feel what it stirs in my soul. Who was the weaver of the cloth? Who spun the thread, where did the raw material feel the first ray of light to bear forth that, which in the hands of the master spinner and weaver becomes the myth of its origin? From whence this ribbon of cloth? I hold it to my face and fill my breath with its essence. I dive into a crystal clear pool, as if diving into the radiating source of light, so pure. In this source of light I feel myself purified the deeper I swim. I swim until I feel there is no more need for I will never reach the end, I allow myself just to drift, wrapped in peace. Slowly I float back to the surface. I open my eyes; the warm breeze cooling the water drops on my skin.
Somewhere in our distant past, one of our ancestors, or more likely a few at the same time, became aware. I feel… I?… Who, what am I? Since then, this question has set us on a search for an answer. But like a mirage appearing to the thirsty in the desert we seem to never be able to touch it. Like a rainbow that appears in the tears of our life, our insight to ourselves at times appear in its full glory. If only you can get to the end of the rainbow you can find the pot of gold. Then one day you realise that the pot of gold is the rainbow. Just the splendour of its beauty refreshes my being, make me feel alive. Does it matter who I am?
What is important is that I am and that I live my life as consciously as I can. I take pleasure in the myriad rainbow of colour, scents, tastes, sounds and touch that is living life. I have been given the gift of life, a flame so precious that where ever I find it I gasp in renewed awe for the miracle of it. That flame of life that resides in me, the now flickering, now dancing, now blazing flame that constitutes me, that flame burns equally in all things living. And where are the boundaries of my flame? Where are the boundaries of the living heat I emanate? Then I wonder is there any separation between my life flame and that of all other flames of life? Am I just a flame sparking brightly in an ocean of fire? Could I be the sun of another universe?
Life is the most basic component of what constitutes I. What I will be without it I speculate all I want but until I can be fully conscious all the time, I will never really know. Until then I will always have to question whether I am the dreamer or the dream. Just like Alice asked in the land through the looking glass, I have to ask how can I be a dream when I know I am. I can feel joy and pain. I can decide to do something, so I must be the dreamer and not the dream. But how many of the decision I make do I truly make out of my own will?
When you begin to realise how many subconscious factors influence your present decisions, you really begin to wonder how much in control you are of your life, your dream. How can you be in control of your life if you don’t know what you think you are, what influences that which you think you are? It is after all that which you think you are that makes the decisions in your life and so determine your future self. I thought I knew who and what I am.
After so many years of intensely exploring all the aspects of what I thought I was, I thought I knew, but I was lost in the myth of that which I thought I was. From a young age we create a myth about ourselves. We fashion this myth from our early experiences of our interaction with the world around us. For the rest of our lives, unless we ask ourselves what is my personal myth we live our life according to our personal myth. If we do not like the way the story of our myth is unfolding we have to change our motivational myth, but first we must uncover just what our personal myth is.
How do we then find the origins and the mystery of our personal myth? The hero must enter the dark caverns of the underworld, look beyond the masking myth of which we think we are. In the hidden shadows of our being, that part of ourselves that we hide so carefully from others, there lies the Grail cup of our healing. “The theme of the Grail Romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland … The Grail becomes the – what can we call it? – That which is attained and realised by people who have lived their own lives. The Grail represents the fulfilment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness.” Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth
Why is it so hard for us to be the confident Hero of our lives? Because we belief we are the mask we project but at the same time we know that the disowned part of ourselves is alive and well, and will someday break through the prison of our mask, exposing that which we have disowned. We fear that, that hidden part of ourselves is a hideous monster and by exposing it to the light the ugliness of ourselves will be revealed and we will be shunned by those around us, those whose love and whose approval we seek. But this is just an illusion we created; we are like the ugly old hag that turns into the most beautiful woman when we kiss her with acceptance, even in her ugliness.
Physical beauty without inner beauty is like a rose without a scent. Intelligence without wisdom, a form without purpose. Just so the beauty of ourselves will not blossom in sweet scent unless nurtured and rooted in the richly composted soil of our shadows. John Carroll in his book “the/ western/ dreaming” Describes soul love, “A hallmark of soul-mate love is that any enquiry about who you are, what you have done or where you have been is entirely superfluous. It is the I am in another, hardly needing to speak, but to acknowledge with gratitude and awe: I am known. Someone walks beside me. Then each to each on their journey of journeys, they may repeat: Courage. I am. Don’t fear!”
Just so it is with self-love from which flows all other love and life.
At my mother’s funeral service the Dominee ( a priest ) said: ‘ What can you leave behind? …Memories are all you can leave behind…”
My mother did leave us with very rich memories, enriching my being. Through the sweetness of my memories, I can taste the delights of life.
A man once asked a group of San why they eat themselves into a stupor? Are they not afraid they could burst? He was answered with these words: “I haven’t heard a story of a Heikum bursting from too much meat…There is always a piece of raw skin to wrap around the full stomach.
But why do you want to eat everything so fast?
It is the law of life among us…What is in the stomach, cannot be stolen by a jackal or a wolf…or other rogues…And when the big hunger comes, we will ask each other; ‘Remember that day when we were so full we had to crawl on our hands and knees?’
Does it take away the hunger?
The heart that remembers beautiful things on the road behind, has power to go ahead.” Jagters Van Die Woestynland – P.J. Schoeman
It is known that those with happy childhood memories survive trauma better than those without. If you can look back on your life and it was sweetened with love, then it was a life was worth living. It truly is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved.
“And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your Heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate of eternity.” Kahlil Gibran How can your winter days be brightened by the dream of spring if you do not know its meaning?
Will – Word – Wyrd
In early civilisations and cultures fate decreed all. Personal destiny was subordinate to the greater destiny of its tribal society and to the gods, Even the gods, if we look at the myths, were subjected to the “Norns”, the sisters Wyrd. Personal freedom as we know it today, in larval state.
The word “wyrd”, is generally translated as “fate” or “destiny”. The three Norse sisters of Wyrd are called Urdr, Verdani and Skuld; past, present and future. Urdr is a past form of the verb ‘verda’, to become, to have to.’ – that which is already established. Verdani, is another part of the same verb – becoming. Skuld represents necessity – a debt due. (In Afrikaans “skuld” still means debt.)
There are some that speculates that in tracing the etymology of and history of the word Wyrd, there appears to be a connection between Wyrd as the powers that determine the future, and the “word” as spoken, and as written. In Old Saxon Wyrd was spelled “Wurd”. In old German it was “Wurt”. These words derive from a verb that comes into Old English as “weorthan”, meaning “to become”, or “turn into”. “War”, an Indo-European root word developed into the verb “weorthan”. “War” was recorded to have the meaning; choose or will to, to speak, and to wind or turn. Winding and turning are the motions of spinning, the symbolic employment of the sisters of Wyrd. Through its meaning of “to speak” “war” developed into “word”. It seems that at an early stage of conceptualisation “willing”, “speaking”, and “becoming” were in a sense synonymous. Perhaps once recognised intuitively when language still reflected the meaningful relationship perceived between things in the world.
(Rune Games – Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland)
One could then see destiny as comprising out of three elements; will, word and becoming or internal desire, expression of that desire, impression of that desire on the external world.
Both divination and meditation are psychological techniques for transcending disunity, for constructing and maintaining an undivided self. The essential difference between the two techniques does not lie in the structure and content of the symbol set or in the way in which it is operated. The essential difference is in the type of consciousness developed by the user. Meditation techniques require the initial surrender of the will to an intuitive perception of the inflow of something greater. The inflow is absorbed and the will reorientated to accommodate the new perceptions:
Memory – Understanding – Will
In contrast, divination techniques require the outflow of the will to embrace the something greater. The desire is externalised by an act of will and the external world responds;
Will – Word – Wyrd
Both require active intellectual involvement and both leads to greater awareness of the internal and external worlds and their known and unknown aspects. Meditative divination, are designed to heighten the individual’s awareness of what he is and so increase his ability to be what he would like to be, to connect with what he would like to connect with. In Meditative divination, the outflow of the questing individualised psyche is balanced and met by the creative inflow of all-embracing universal psyche. These inward and outward forces flowing together form the nexus of the mind of man.
It is this act of will that can be called intent.
The world is deep;
Deeper than day can comprehend.
Friedrich Nietzche – Thus Spoke Zarahustra
The Way of Wyrd
There is a fascinating novel written by Brian Bates: The way of Wyrd – Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer. The story centres around a young Christian missionary, Wat Brand, sent ( as he thought) to convert and re-educate the anglo-saxon ‘pagans’. But at the very outset, he is met by the sorcerer, Wulf, who sweeps him into another world and proceeds to expand the mind and understanding of the erstwhile converter.
In one incident, while cooling themselves in a river, they witness the flight of two ravens. Wulf makes a prediction of future events based from an observation of their flight. The tale is told in the first person by the young missionary:
“I snorted with derision, … ‘How can the mere flight of birds tell us about events distant in time and place?’…
I turned to wade ashore, but Wulf suddenly gripped me by the arm and I looked at him in alarm; he was looking at me piercingly, his eyes clear azure blue through lashes sparkling with river water. He spoke with conviction: ‘It is a mistake to assume that events far apart in time are thereby separate. All things are connected as in the finest web of a spider. The slightest movement on any thread can be discerned from all points in the web. The flight of those ravens trembled the threads that connect invisibly with the affairs of men.’
My sceptism must have been plainly visible in my expression … With the hint of a smile, Wulf released his grip on my arm and splashed on to the river bank. I stood in the water watching him. ‘Imagine you were to witness a raven swooping from the sky to peck out the eye of a warrior,’ he said, stretching out on the grass. ‘You would say that the flight of the bird was connected directly with the wound. But if you had observed the flight of the same raven half a day before the attack, you would see no connection with the warrior’s injury. Nevertheless the pattern of a raven’s flight at noon is bound to the pattern of its flight at dusk, just as surely as the progression of day and night. One can read the pattern and thus see what the future has in store.’
He sat up and stared at me intently. ‘You are labelling pieces of the world with words, then confusing your word-hoard for the totality of life. You see life as if you were viewing a room by the light of a single moving candle; then you make the error of assuming that the small areas you are seeing one at a time are separate and cannot be seen as one. Since the small areas of your life are thus seen as separate, you have to invent ways of connecting them. This is the fallacy of the ordinary person’s view of life, for everything is already connected. Middle-Earth is one room, lit by a thousand candles.’
Wulf leaned closer to me and spoke into my ear as if sharing a secret:’ You are strangling your life-force with words. Do not live your life searching around for answers in your word-hoard. You will find only words to rationalise your experience. Allow yourself to open up to wyrd and it will cleanse, renew, change and develop your casket of reason. Your word-hoard should serve your experience, not the reverse.’
He smiled gently. ‘Words can be potent magic indeed, but they can enslave us. We grasp from wyrd tiny puffs of wind and store them in our lungs as words. But we have not thereby captured a piece of reality, to be pored over and examined as if it were a glimpse of wyrd. We may as well mistake our fistfuls of air for wind itself, or a pitcher of water for the stream from which it was dipped. That is the way we are enslaved by our own power to name things.”
From the “The Secret Of The Creative Vacuum” – John Davidson
In exploring the unknown you will get lost if your intent is not clear. Think of it like you would about a wish, as they say, “be careful what you wish for.”
“There is no act in the universe that is superior to the act of believing, and there is no power that is greater than intent. In truth they are but the two sides of the same coin, and what binds them together is emotion … If, on the other hand, a man has a belief which is charged with emotion, he will go to extraordinary lengths to uphold and defend that belief. Should such a man consider that a particular belief to be essential to his continued wellbeing, then he will choose to die rather than relinquish his belief…However, since the apprentice is not planning to die, but instead to escape the confines of his view of the world, he does the only thing which is possible for him to do – he chooses to believe that it is possible to escape. Since such an escape is the only thing that matters to the apprentice, his decision becomes charged with emotion. It is through this emotion that he first of all manages to activate his intent, and then ultimately to set upon escaping…” – Theun Mares
Intent seeks to unite the unknown with the known. The unknown expresses the purpose of awareness through intent.
To perform effective ‘magic’ three necessities must be present; the need, the emotion, and the knowledge. To help attract, arouse and direct. Magic really just means to materialise something from the unknown. This I found can be applied to any earthly concerns. Need can be replaced with the word ‘intent’ because it directs the awareness (the focus) as well as the activity. The way not to make focus into a hard labour is to use it as if you are looking forward to something special, something pleasurable about to happen. Then your focus is immediately there. Focus brings into awareness what you choose to experience. A decision making, assertive communication. This automatically makes your awareness selective, to fulfil the intent. Energy goes where attention goes.
Children learn to walk, talk and interact with the world by following their intent, which is in turn born out of following the scent of their pleasure, hunger. So for me intent can also be seen as an internal hunger.
Rudolf Steiner likened destiny to a hunger: “The human being, when he is born, hungers to do what he does, and he does not give up until he satisfies this hunger.”
When we feel a physical hunger, it dominates our choices. When we long for the fulfilment of sexual desire, an appeasement of hunger, there can be no denial of our orientation. Real spiritual desire is a raw as these. We are born with a hunger of some kind that needs fulfilment. It is this hunger that steers our destiny.
The hunger becomes the ‘intent’ because it directs the awareness (the focus) as well as the activity. Focus brings into awareness what you choose to experience. Which automatically makes your awareness selective, to fulfil the intent.
I often used to lament that we are not born with a personal manual to guide our unfolding self. Since then I have realised that we are indeed born with a personal manual. Clues for keys to our unfolding is already present within us before we are even born. With our first breath of life, our intent for our unfolding starts to drive us. Just as the dormant seed awakens and start to push its way through the soil, through cracks, around rock and stones. Clues to our individual paths reveals itself through our intent.
I ventured forth upon my search.
A distant song that kept me going
through the years of struggle.
Then in a moment not in time
I found the source of the song.
For a precious forever moment
I found what I was looking for.
Enraptured in bliss.
But as from an enchanted dream
I had to return
If I know only one thing about life, then it is that life will always present us with what we could never have imagined, surprising twists and turns. And so it has been for me.
Psychologists says that we live in an inner an outer world, and that it is our inner world that determines our course in the outer world. Our inner world is created in our early childhood and consists out of personal myths that we build our dreams on. In spiritual terms, the inner and outer worlds reflects the Yin and the Yang of our existence. What drives us through life and what connects our inner and outer worlds, is our dream, born out of our personal myths. Within our dreams is woven the scent of unique calling.
What gives each of us pleasure is unique in all of us. Sadly for many, their unique sense of pleasure have been overwhelmed by the mass media idea of what should give us pleasure. In today’s world it is especially hard to discern your own uniqueness from the global image. It is not just in material aspirations, that we get caught by media image of the way things should be, but also in the our spiritual searchings.
Like so many other stories and myths, the hero or heroine progresses through the call, the search, the struggle and finally reaches the the breakthrough. It here where most stories end. “And they lived happily ever after …” In spiritual myth Enlightenment is achieved, Nirvana, Translation, transfiguration etc. But the story does not end there, there is still the return.
“I realized that the problems with goals in life is not that they can’t be achieved, but that they can. And then what?” – Hugh Downs
“I’d gone to the moon. What to do next? What possible goal could I add now?” Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
All our lives we taught to strive for the moon, our dreams, to strive for the mountain top, but not what to do when we reached it. It is as if we are told to strive, but that no one actually expects us to reach it. We are left to face the return, alone, without any guidance. It is however in the return that everything you have striven for could be lost.
Research has shown that the happiness levels of lottery winners returns to former levels within a year. This to me is very significant. We pray for miracles but we are not prepared for miracles. We dream of eternal spring, but that is not the natural flow of things. If once we reached a peak and stayed there, what more would we learn? Live is not an endless circle but an endless spiral. The wise man must always return from the mountain top, down to the valley to share what he has learnt.
For me it is much like having a brilliant idea, but the brilliant idea will have little meaning unless it is put into practical application. Always the there is the journey uphill to the peak and then there must be the return to the hard reality. Anyone who has climbed a mountain will know that the journey back is always the worst. Why must we always return?
The depth of the mystery of life is so unfathomable from our present vantage point that we have to learn layer by layer. We get rewards of encouragement along the way but it is never it, there is always more to learn, deeper to go and we could so easily be dazzled by the the first rays of light that we think we have seen the light. When you achieved a goal, reached a dream, you must for a while experience a period of nothingness. It is within this time of nothingness that we can so easily give up, or be deluded by our past achievements, believing that there can never be more. But be still, out of the brilliant ashes of your your old goals, old dreams, a new bigger dream is waiting to be born, one that will take us further into the secrets of life.
Life is not one Breakthrough but a series of Breakthroughs.
“When you accept that your “here and now” is forever shaped by what went before, why resist those memories and insights of what went before as a part of your process of transformation in a life lived here and now, even if, as you say, all the worlds and realms of the inner planes exist in the same space at the same time, here and now? “
I agree, what we were very much influence us in the here and now. I do not resist my memories of the past lives, any more than I resist memories of this life, or my dreams. When they come I let them rise, and learn from them what they reveal. I see them very much like dreams, sometimes a present experience spark a memory, vision or a dream of a past time. Indeed if you are open to them they reveal much about the present. I have found that one remembers the ones that reveal your present wounds, in other words that which has direct relevance to your present conditions. The ones I remember in most detail clearly shows me where my present resistances, and blockages comes from. It is also reflects directly why I find myself in my present situation, what it is I must go beyond and transmute. Some say we could have lived thousands of lives, just like we have thousands of memories, not all are directly relevant to the present, neither can we remember them all. Thus when the student is ready, the master will be there. When we are ready to deal with lessons we have to learn, what you need to know is revealed. Sometimes our egos are not mature or balanced enough to deal with past traumatic events. I therefore find it vitally important to cultivate the right conditions in the present so that I may move beyond old karmic conditions and gravity.
Tau Malachi said the following on dreams;
According to the Zohar dreams are very important – from them we are meant to take guidance in life, for they reveal the influence of spiritual forces within and behind what transpires. Likewise, it is said that dreams are 1/60th the power of death and are a direct reflection of the nature of the afterlife experience.
Every night, the Zohar says, our soul goes on a journey apart from the body and only a vital link of soul-energy remains in the body. Potentially, the soul can ascend to commune in its Source, the Light, though often times souls become distracted along the way and bound to lower and less luminous realms. What our dreams reveal is what is going on in our consciousness on a psychic and spiritual level, and thus our dreams empower us to a conscious response. If our dreams are bright and luminous and uplifting, it is an indication we are on the right track and connecting with positive influences. If our dreams are dim or dark, then it is an indication of a need for correction and self-purification. In other words, based on watching our dreams we can consciously direct our spiritual practice as necessary, responding to what is happening outwardly in our lives as well as in our interior lives.
The Zohar teaches that regardless of whether or not we experience a luminous and uplifting dream or one that is dark and dreadful, nevertheless we should always interpret dreams in a postitive light. Essentially, the influence of a dream will depend upon our interpretation of it, and when we speak our dreams, or even think of them, it is a very powerful act, akin to self-prophecy. Thus, even an inauspicious dream interpreted in an auspicious way can become a positive invocation.
Here we may give an example. Suppose you dream a very dark and frightening dream. When you awaken and remember your dream you could interpret it as a call of the Holy Spirit to engage in self-purification and banishing, not only for yourself alone, but for the sake of the people and the land; hence an invocation of the action of a spiritual warrior. Acting accordingly, what otherwise would be an ill-omen becomes completely positive.
This reflects the very nature of the spiritual life – consciously responding to whatever transpires in a positive, creative and uplifting way. In all things this is the choice we have and the choices we make will determine our experience and the outcome of things.
The Zohar also tells us to be careful to whom we speak our dreams, that they should only be spoken consciously, and only to those who are our real friends and have our best interest in mind. In other words, dreams should be dealt with as very intimate and personal and, moreover, as sacred and holy. They are private and not public, and should be guarded against ill-will and negativity.
This view on dreams reflects the two most important points of spiritual practice in our day – morning and evening. Morning practice is the exit of dream and evening practice is the entrance, and how we shift between dream and sleep, and waking consciousness, is considered very important, especially at the point we are working with Transference of Consciousness practices.
It is good to pay attention to what one does before going to bed. It is best to clear the mind and bring ressolution to the issues of one’s day – clearing oneself of all links formed (especially those that are negative). What one does in the evening before going to sleep is a large influence on one’s dreams. Therefore, if one seeks vision in dream or more luminous dreams directing one’s mind to spiritual and luminous things is a good practice. In the tradition, once one is well established in spiritual life and practice, there are even practices that can be done while one is shifting into sleep and dream to become conscious in one’s dreams.
The idea that dreams are “less real” than waking consciousness is a serious misconception according to the Kabbalah. In truth, this world is akin to a collective dream, versus our apparently individual dreams, and both are equally “real” in their own dimension and context. According to the Zohar, consciously working with our dreams we can bring about positive and powerful changes in our lives in the waking consciousness and be better prepared for a conscious transition through the experience we call “death”; hence be empowered to experience the Risen Savior and the Ascension in the afterlife states.
In refection of this, I was contemplating the relationship between dreams and physical life experiences, and how awareness in one affects the other, when it dawned upon me … The relationship between dream re-telling and memories. Just as I must be careful in how I re-tell my dreams, I must be careful how I view my memories of my life experiences, and past-life memories. Just as I could look at my nightmare dreams from a positive learning angle, so I can view my nightmarish experiences in life. I presented my insight Tau Malachi, and this is the reply I received:
In the teachings the past is often called “dream-like” and looking into the nature of memories we find this to be true – yesterday’s experience is like last night’s dream, both now existing as memories. I believe your insight is right on the mark, for whether dreams or experiences of the past there is “prophetic” power in how we speak of them, whether for good or for ill – instead of living in reaction we want to live in conscious response, exercising our co-creative capacity to draw out the sparks of blessings from all our experiences, even from those that may seem “inauspicious” or “dark and hostile.” While we may not be able to avoid certain circumstances, situations or events, and may not be able to go back and change the past, nevertheless we can choose how we relate with it and, as you have said, we can choose how we think of it and speak of it. Truly there is great power in our view of things and how we think and speak of them, as we see in the practice of affirmation and creative visualization and the manifesting power that comes into play.
In teachings on “Perfect Success,” as given in Living Gnosis, when we speak of remaining completely positive, it includes the past, as well as the present and future – all “three times” as the Buddhist would say.
At the outset of such a practice we may find that it is not exactly easy, first because of our own habitual patterns of negative thought, speech and action, our own karmic continuum; however, we will also encounter a greater downward and backward pull of karmic gravity in this world – a dampening field of psychic and spiritual energy, as it were, that attempts to keep us bound up in fear and anger, and various forms of negativity. In fact, when we speak of “liberation” on the most basic level we are speaking of breaking free of the karmic gravity of this world, or the karmic gravity of the realms, worlds and universes of the Entirety. As much as the steps of Perfect Success may be applied to any endeavor, within and behind those teachings we are actually speaking about the ultimate perfection and success, the enlightenment and liberation of the mind or soul-stream.
This “little thing” of remaining completely positive is no little thing – it is everything, really. Quite naturally it requires the cultivation of the presence of awareness, for on account the dampening field of psychic and spiritual energy we can easily fall into forgetfulness, becoming bound up in negativity. Along with the cultivation of the presence of awareness, letting go of attachment and aversion becomes essential, for as long we are attached or averse we are bound to reaction and cannot enact a conscious response. In this we see the virtue of the practice of the silent witness and primordial meditation and how it may serve to empower other practices in our spiritual life.
Of the struggle to stay completely positive, however, we can say that it is a truly noble and worthwhile effort, for if there is to be a change in the world we must first bring about that change in ourselves; to the extend that we are able to be completely positive we become a force for the greater good in the world.
Having been a Gnostic practitioner for thirty six years or so what strikes me most is the struggle to ground and integrate our spirituality in the mundane sphere of daily living. It is relatively easy to have peak spiritual and mystical experiences, the real work is embodying the truth and light in our thoughts, speech and actions. It is so easy to speak of our peak experiences in consciousness, but then find our thoughts, speech and actions contradicting the truth and light revealed in our experiences.
Quite naturally, how I view and relate with my past, how I view and relate with the present and how I envision the future must change as I undergo the spiritual death and rebirth and enter into the path of conscious evolution – for it is the womb of Sophia giving birth to Christ in me. If there has been tumult and suffering, surely it is as the labor pains of the Divine Mother giving birth to us as the Risen Christ.
I believe the idea of a positive view and relationship with our past, regardless of what darkness and tumult may lay in it, is an integral part of the wisdom in the Sophian Gnostic legends of the Holy Bride in Babylon. How did she emerge from such darkness to embody so great a Light-presence and Light-power? While it may well be a play in myth and legend, nevertheless it speaks a truth in our own experience; however deeply we may have become entangled in the ignorance and darkness, there is always the potential for our enlightenment and liberation – and, of course, the experience of our past is transformed by the enlightenment experience.
It is not always possible to know all the sources for our present negative reactions in our conscious minds. There is a wonderful practice suggested by Serge Kahili King in dealing with such negative reactions, it is called Blanket Forgiveness. Forgiveness is basically a process of deciding that whatever happened is no longer important or it doesn’t matter anymore.
First you assume that in any current condition of pain or discomfort there is some anger involved, even if you don’t know what it is all about. Then you touch the area of your body that is in pain or discomfort with the fingers of either hand and say, “Whatever this is related to, I forgive it completely and it doesn’t matter anymore.” Most of the time you will experience at least some instant relief, and often complete relief, but if not keep doing it for one full minute with the full focus of your attention.
Often with the relief memories might surface which relates to the pain or discomfort.
One may awake in a dream, but not from the greater dream.
The Myth of Lilith
I find it very interesting that Lilith evokes so much emotional response in people. In my experience when something evokes an emotional response in me, it touches an area within myself that needs to come to my awareness. If I have a negative emotional response to something then it means for me that a sore point in myself have been touched, an area in my shadow has been activated. It touches an area of boundary within ourselves.
Until recently I have been unaware that Lilith played such an important role in the Feminist movement, myself looking at Archetypes rather from a Jungian point of view, or from the perspective of the Mythogem as Stephen Larsen calls it in his book “The Mythic Imagination”.
“Mythogems – the ‘bricks’ of which mythologies are built. These elements, being of the stuff of psyche, are far from inert building materials, rather, like RNA and DNA, they structure the living processes in which they participate. And herein lies the urgency to our conscious rapprochement with the mythic world. If they are not monitored, myths can seize on behavior, as well as consciousness itself, in inadvertentent or compulsive ways. If we wish to avoid ‘being made fools of by our illusions,’ there is no substitute for becoming conscious of them …Stereotypes may well grow out of archetypes. We all have an intuitive idea of how stereotypes work: a fixed set of unexamined inner images and values substitutes for an ongoing open-ended experience of reality.”
In looking at myth we are looking at the shadow history of mankind. The undercurrent that really shaped our history. When looking at history from a logical perspective how often did the facts really motivate the initiation of a war? What really inspired Alexander the Great on his conquests against all odds? Most recently we have an only too clear example of the Iraq war. My father very wisely said to me that there are two things one should never get into an argument with others; politics and religion. Often when you come up against minds that are so set that not even the best logical reasoning will change there minds, you know myths are at work. It does not matter whether you are an Atheist, religious or spiritual, we all have myths we base our lives on. Myths do not rely on logical facts for their existence, nor does it limit their sphere of influence in our lives. It is only when we acknowledge their existence and bring them from the shadow lands of our unconsciousness into the light of our consciousness that we can see the real meaning of their existence.
Look at the story of the Holy Grail. If you track its history you will see it suddenly appeared in our Mythic Imagination during the time period of the individual awakening. (See my post on Evolution of Romantic Love.)
Whether the myriad of stories about the Grail are true or not does not matter, if you go to the core of the stories what remains? The image of The Grail itself. Why has the image of the grail so suddenly appeared to have gripped the imagination of millions. It is not the controversy, though the controversy is the mechanism that aids the spread of awareness of the image. What concept awakens in our consciousness when we see the grail cup? First layer – Intrigue, Hidden Mysteries, Power. What intrigue? What lies hidden? What are the secret plots, the hidden mysteries, the secret powers, but a reflection of the inner search for the Holy Grail of who we really are. Hidden amongst the intrigues are our highest potential. As many says the search for the self is like finding you way through a maze. Unraveling the intrigues of our conditioning. Says Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth ;
“The theme of the Grail Romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland … The Grail becomes the – what can we call it? – That which is attained and realized by people who have lived their own lives. The Grail represents the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness.”
Perhaps we should say that when the student is ready the Myth will be there, ready to yield its secrets. In looking at the history of a particular myth, it is as if looking at the channels in subconsciousness being prepared for a conscious awakening, for another step in our evolution of consciousness.
Looking at the history of Lilith, it appears to be just as controversial as the emotions her Archetypal Image evokes. Some believing that she is a feminist invention.
“Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a professor at South Florida State University. If you actually go and read all of the literature on Lilith in all Jewish literature, you still won’t get the Lilith story that feminists espouse. When questioned on the myth of Lilith being the first feminist, he remarks, “That’s no myth. That’s just a story somebody made up yesterday.”
“Lilith was just a classic example of what happens when imaginative bias creeps into the historical method and composes itself into a curious form of exegetic mythopoesis that defies all laws of common sense and history.”
The Real Story Behind Lilith
1. Of or relating to the making of myths.
2. Serving to create or engender myths; productive in mythmaking
From Greek mthopoios, composer of fiction, from mthopoiein, to relate a story : mthos, story + poiein, to make; see kwei-2 in Indo-European
So I smile to myself, but is that not exactly what any myth is? Is one myth more worthy to be a myth than another? Are the classical myths with a scholarly approved record not a story someone made up yesterday, are not all myths mythopoesis? If you track the record of all well known myths they are composites of earlier myths, adapted through changing cultures. Where did the original myth, the uber/primal myth from which all others were derived spring from?
Alexander Marshack, a professor of Paleolithic Archaeology at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, writes in his book “The Roots of Civilization”
“The discussions is intended, instead, to show how one usually ‘sees’ what one is prepared to ‘see’, either by experience or training or by current concepts in the culture of the time. This problem of how one ‘sees’ in a cultural context is, in fact, one that research in ‘artificial intelligence’ has not yet been able to adequately address. There is no better instance of the problem of how one sees than the persistent and changing efforts by an army of authors to interpret the complex and variable iconography and imagery of the Ice Age, the images that authors have for so long presumed to be the primitive ‘beginnings’ of human art. Since we do not have the accompanying mythology or the antecedents of these traditions we are endlessly free to create mythologies and ‘origins’ of our own…
World mythology, in fact, offers a voluminous documentation of incessant and miraculous transformations that occur as part of the narrative equations that are integral to that form of story-telling. Folk tales are often structured with a persistent use of the concepts of change and transformation. Levi-Strauss spent a large portion of his life documenting the diverse ways in which myths and the characters in myths transform, not on the basis of transformations seen in trance, but on the basis of the transformations that are inherent and possible in the equationing, narrative, and mythic ‘story’ mode. Transformations, in fact, are documented in the mythic literature of all the world’s religions. These transformations are not derived from trance, but from the creative and mythic process itself. One reason, of course, is that periodicity, change, transformation, and the unexpected, are universally recognized aspects of both nature and culture, and changes even occur in individual personality. As a result they are processes that are endlessly elaborated, explained and altered in myth. These mythic modes are as variable and creative as any of the transformations or narratives that are seen or lived through in trance.
It may be of interest that, as an aspect of the human, these mythic modes occur as well in the theories and models created by ethnographers and anthropologists. There is another aspect of the problem. The person in trance usually ‘sees’ the mythic images of his own culture, not of someone else’s culture, and while in trance the person will make the mythic voyage prescribed by the culture, not the mythic voyage offered by someone else’s culture. The trancer will often also transcribe or translate the visions seen in trance into words, idioms, and images that are part of the the traditional imagery and mythology of that culture.
How and why did the manufacture of image and symbol begin? It began, it now seems, like language itself began, to mark and refer to the relevant, the meaningful and the recognized – and often also to the unexplained and unexplainable – to those processes, objects and relations that were recognized in the increasingly complex phenomenological and cultural realms of human observation. This thought and insight, acquired early in the research, began a second inquiry – into the evolution and function of the human brain, and into the role of vision and imaging in the referencing capacity of language, since language, after all, is merely a mode of refering to the categories and processes or equations of the visible or envisionable world. And it began, as well, an inquiry into the different and changing worlds of ‘realities’ that eye and brain ‘see’ and the different and changing worlds that the brain can create and has created. … Again, and repeatedly, one ‘sees’ and does not ‘see’ what one is prepared both to ‘see’ and to not ‘see’.”
Myth, symbol and ritual are intimately linked and is an essential part of being human. Ritual is an enactment of the myth and symbol contains the essence of the myth. It is really not possible for us to interpret ancient myth in a “correct way” unless we can actually place ourselves in the the mindset of those particular people, at that time and place, We can but imagine how it felt, how other people think, but we cannot know the totality for we do not know the shadow at work at that particular time. Yet in essence the human nature seems to have changed little over time. There were always individuals who were far in at advance in consciousness to there contemporaries – in ancient past the shamans, and those who lived simply an exoteric life. The more advanced human being is not the more “civilized” being but the more aware being. One who does not just live a reactionary life but consciously strives to dispel unconscious myths in their, but rather engage in a the creative process of mythmaking fully aware where they originate, for it seems as if we cannot live without myth, it is part of our emotional well-being, or perhaps not yet. There are some that say that it will be like looking the Medusa straight in the eye. “Frontal Medusa experience as expounded on by Trees Depoorter in his work “ Madam Morte.”
“The first Medusa experience I will discuss is the frontal one, experienced by all creatures who have tried to catch a direct glimpse of ‘Medusa’ – resulting in actual ‘Medusation’. A Medusa experience in fact always implies a confrontation. It means that one affronts oneself with something dreadful, something of which the sight/gaze is extremely threatening. The starting point is anxiety. (Ultimately, it does not make any difference whether or not this is actually a kind of “castration anxiety”, as Freud has explicitly claimed – what matters here is the sequence inaugurated by this dread.) In a frontal confrontation with Medusa, or more generally, with radical otherness, i.e., the completely unexpected, unknown, unwanted or incomprehensible, the “terror” of that moment can be understood in two ways. On the one hand, it can be content-related, as the instant of seeing something frightening, of witnessing horror; on the other hand, in a formal way, there is an experience of fright, the act of being frightened (being “scared to death”). A sudden “halt” occurs, a standstill, a paralysis of the self (petrifaction), a punctuation of temporal experience (or at least a sharpening of the victim’s awareness of the now). This overwhelming oppression causes an immediate modification (the condition before the confrontation can in no way be compared to the state following it). A frontal Medusa experience is, in fact, a metaphor for dis-continuity and as such, it fits with Jean Clair’s transhistorical paradigm of representations of Medusa in times of malaise and restlessness, times in which – as we have seen – the aspect of Medusa’s terribleness is emphasised.
Frontality is fatal. It puts an end to the continuous steady flow of life – hero or no hero. Frontality means a breaking point, a caesura, an exceptional condition in which normal rules and regularities no longer hold (as in: one does not “normally” turn into stone in the twinkling of an eye, just like that). What ensues this critical instant of fright(ening), is a return to a normalised predicament (i.e. a state of being/staying petrified), although this “normal condition” is totally incomparable with the “normality” preceding the Medusa moment. From a formal perspective, the frontal Medusa experience can be characterised by “suddenness”. If something is abrupt or sudden, it means it can not be fitted into the usual schemes, into our Lebenswelt or expectations (even in spite of the preceding fear, for a Medusian sight/gaze is so horrible that it exceeds any fearful representation). Suddenness is an indication of the/an other, a sign of that which hinders integration – much like a literal medusation would affect your integrity (that is, the integrity of your bodily ‘normalcy’, of your living and moving self).
In a collection of essays (Plötzlichkeit), Karl Heinz Bohrer uses the notion of “suddenness” as a heuristic device. In discussing a number of “Plötzlichkeit-Denker” like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Scheler, Schmitt, Benjamin, Bohrer tries to relate the category (of experience) and (temporal) modality of suddenness to the aesthetic. Since suddenness does not presume a metaphysical notion of substance, but should rather be understood as a transcendental category of perception, and since the aesthetic is linked to suddenness, beauty – according to Bohrer – no longer has to yield under the pressure of legitimacy. In some ways reminiscent of Clair’s observations about different attitudes towards the theme of Medusa, Bohrer states that in the course of history different stances towards ‘the sudden’ can be identified. For example, where Clair recognises a growing attention for Medusa bound up with the theme of Narcissus and a general malaise and disorientation of the self, at the turn of the twentieth century, Bohrer too spots a “Krise des Kontinuitätsgedankens und der nicht mehr als sebstverständlich genommenen Realität.” as well as a dramatising of ‘suddenness’. Very briefly, I would like to go into Bohrer’s discussion of Kierkegaard’s observations on this subject. Within the theological context of Kierkegaard’s thought, suddenness becomes demonised. In Der Begriff Angst, Kierkegaard writes “das Dämonische ist das Plötzliche”. Suddenness, for him, is essentially a characteristic of the appearance of Satan, of Mephistopheles. Therefore, the experience of the sudden/satanic can most successfully be conveyed to a spectator in mimic rather than a verbal way. Nothing can be as “grauenvoll” (dreadful) as silence. The mimic act can express suddenness, but that doesn’t imply that the mimic is to be identified with the sudden as such:
In dieser Hinsicht hat Ballettmeister Bournonville grosses Verdienst durch die Darstellung, die er selbst von Mephistopheles gibt. Der Horror, der einen ergreift, wie Mephistopheles durchs Fenster hineinspringt und in der Stellung des Sprunges stehen bleibt! (Kierkegaard in Bohrer: 48)
For Kierkegaard, the characteristic effect of being “struck” by a “sudden fright” is dumbfoundedness, which is in fact nothing else than another version of “saisissement”, the paralysis or petrifaction mentioned above in the context of a frontal Medusa experience.
In the third chapter of Méduse, Jean Clair has interpreted the heroic tale of Perseus’ triumph over Medusa as follows: one should never attack ‘the Other’, chaos, … in a frontal way. He calls this “the lesson of culture”. Medusa’s decapitation by Perseus is seen as an image of the structuring of knowledge and of a process of identification: in taking away the head of the Other, we gain our own reason. The detour of the “figurative” enables us to make “the dreadful and frightening” more concrete and to detach ourselves from it. As for Clair, this is the ultimate goal of every education: “Se rendre invisible à l’autre pour en supporter la présence en nous, ce serait là la finalité de toute éducation.” Those who are most adept at this activity of ‘exorcising’ are called “heroes”, or – more contemporary – “artists”. In other words, culture consists of becoming a “master of fear”, just like Perseus used to be. According to Clair, triumph over Medusa entails the founding of a new order, a new regularity. He stresses the remarkable fact that Athena finally appropriates the symbol of Medusa, as well as the fact that she, the incarnation of the most “typical” aspects of human nature (thought and struggle) hides herself behind the face of otherness, behind that which petrifies, blinds or maddens….
Probably there are no such things as purely unmediated/immediate experiences, just as much as representations can never be completely indirect, for every reflection in a mirror / representation / mediation is “experienced” as well. (there is absolutely no convincing argument to hold the ‘original’ object of reflection as ontologically superior to the image itself, quite the contrary). Nevertheless, the two Medusa experiences discussed in this paper can be meaningful or interesting – as limit cases: “ideal” without a doubt, but enlightening and instructive too, since this mythical ‘thought experiment’ indeed enables us to make some distinctions. Thanks to the metaphorical strength of the Medusa story we are allowed to sketch a meaningful duality, without being forced to conclude to a radical dualism.
So, one could roughly state that in an indirect Medusa confrontation, the other is never really seen or experienced (either out of a healthy distrust or out of a sensible caution – always beforehand), although it always really ‘is’ present ‘as’ representation. That way, one can never be ‘seized’ or ‘struck’ unexpectedly by paralysing experiences. Moreover, the very possibility of an experience of the uncanny is undermined, since no disturbing confusions of the familiar and the unfamiliar are likely to occur (inasmuch as the unknown is caught in mirror projections or bags). Not a being seized by, but a seizing of Medusa. Reasoning, very much like ‘suspicion’, seems to bring along the same neutralising effect concerning the experience of the uncanny.
“Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich” – Rilkes assertion indeed seems to hold within the reckless realm of immediate experiences, yet in the looking glass world of mediating and mediated representations, in an important way, it does not. “
To experience the “other” we still need an intermediatory means, for full or total experience might very well cause madness or death in us. This is also reflected in the old Tibetan story of the frog who lived all his life in a dark deep well. One day the frog decided to go and see what is outside the well … and his brain exploded. We need prepared channels of preparation in understanding the other. Our myth prepares us if we do not just unconsciously enact the ritual.
The importance of a myth is not in how it arrived but that it did arrive. Myths reflects the unconscious transformational processes in our culture and the evolution of our consciousness. However the world we find ourselves in at present is no longer influenced by a linear line of culture only. Most of us comes from a very mixed bloodline, as have been found in recent genetic analysis. So it is not surprising that our myths should also become hybridized. Then again all myth are hybridized versions of even more ancient myth. If you look at the myths of ancient Egypt you will find many versions of the same myth. Take Anubis. Many say that he is even more ancient than Osiris, but in later myths he becomes the son of Osiris, the shadow brother of Horus. Myth are closely linked to our dream process where logic have no meaning, yet it reflects our present state of being. How you interpret dreams is a very personal relationship with the symbols that appears in your dreams, it is a creative transformative process in itself. The symbol evokes an emotional response in you. It is said that in the Eleusinian Mysteries, after long preparations in the final ceremony a single ear of corn was held up and the sight of that symbol had a profound affect on the initiates, a sudden breakthrough in understanding, bringing a paradigm shift.
Current myth reflects current psyche. Myth arises spontaneously from our psyche and it seems to have done so since our beginnings.
“Opposing to the autonomic, fatherly and fighting God, an image has been dreamt of a most beautiful woman, goddess of lust and magic, and possessor of power words which submit and force the very power of God. Amongst the many exiles from Heaven (their name is legio), she’s the one which, most persistently, has passed through the darkness, getting near to human ear (and bed); and, though hidden or censored, her memory remains in our mythical heritage.” – Alejandro Arturo González Terriza
Using my mythical imagination, I do not have to stretch it far to say that with the global process of individuation well underway, it is not just feminist that feels rebellious against the “autonomic, fatherly and fighting Gods” of this world. There is a restless rebellious feeling awakening in most of the humanity that wants to think for themselves, decide for themselves, make their own mistakes, rather than be subjected to the mistakes of the “fatherly , fighting gods”. ( Look at the recent elections in America and “say no more …” ) We yearn for renewal of the land, and feel that the old institutions have grown old and stagnant. Drained of vital energy.
Lilith is for me just one of the aspects of the Dark Goddess. There is another aspect that strikes me. Just like humanity has become scattered and separate and speaks with different tongue, as in the story of the Tower of Babel so have we come to see aspects of the gods as separate. Not only are gods and godesses seen as separate (masculine/feminine) but also aspects of the goddess as separate. The 3 aspects of the goddess; virgin, mother, and hag/temptress are viewed separately. You can embody one but not the other. I will of course say the same will apply to the masculine equivalent.
I think the reason why Lilith was so embraced by the Feminist movement was because the myth represent a missing aspect of our womanhood. A part of us that had been exiled to the wastelands of our shadow. A part of us that was considered bad and evil. The angry vengeful Lilith comes to wreak havoc in our lives, not because she is evil but because she who had once been part of us are cast out in exile. As long as we believe that a part of us is bad we will be filled with guilty feelings, think of ourselves as lesser in some way, and we will act defensively in case we are found out. Evil is not perpetrated by self-confident, psychologically whole people, but by wounded, insecure people. Lilith in her wrathful aspect represents that exiled part of us that threatens to expose us as bad, or overwhelm us with “the devil made me do it “feelings”.
There is a very interesting British TV series called “Dr Who”. I heard some teenagers discussing which of the series they found the most scary, most declared it was “Impossible World” where the Devil was found chained in a black hole. Some of the kids said their parents would not let them watch it. This I find interesting. That which we simply cannot comprehend scares us most, the other, chaos. For evil is seen as chaos, beyond our control because we cannot comprehend it.
If I have to look for an Archetype in common perception that most represents what the whole woman would be like, I will look to Isis. Isis seems to represent what women were meant to be, before the separation occurred for whatever reason.
Your imagination is your preview to life’s coming attractions.
The Spiritual quest begins when we ask “Who am I?”, “What am I?”, and “What is my purpose?” You can say that the very act of consciousness begins with those questions. Why do we as Humans have to define ourselves as something, try and make sense of our world, the Universe and our place within it when in all spiritual traditions the concept that all is one, forms the very basis of spiritual belief. Why are we not content just to be? In trying to define ourselves, even from a purely physical level, what do we know? It is not possible to see ourselves as whole, the way others would see us, we see only parts of ourselves at one time. When you hear a recording of your voice, it is always strange, and not what you imagined it sounded like when you speak. We can only imagine what we are like to others, but we cannot see ourselves the way others do, for we always see ourselves through our feelings. Then again others also see us through their pre-conditioned reactions to particular images. Try as we might we can never really know who we are, at best we will just have an image of what we are as a static picture in time, and of course we are not static, we are always changing and evolving.
In Sacred geometry God is described as the circle, the unbroken line, and I – symbolizing non-division, consciousness without an object. In the Kabbalah it is called Ain – this would be the state of “negative existence”; the most remote aspect of beyond which the human cannot conceive of anything further from life as we know it, would be The sacred word to create, is represented as a straight line between two points, or II. I believe this can also be called the Formative Mind. The Primordial water of chaos or Nu, (Spectral components?) according to Ancient Egyptian beliefs, is represented by the triangle within which is contained the 3 creative powers, the trinity, from which Creation emerges, what we now call “local-reality.”
If we look at the Sacred word to Create, the straight line between two points, it implies that there are two separate points, yet all is one, so there cannot be any division, there cannot be any two separate points. Yet, I am aware of an I that I perceive as separate from another. In perceiving thus I create separateness which enables me to “see”. However if all is one then the separateness is just in my imagination. I will not be able to see unless I imagine myself as separate from what I see, otherwise I will not “see” but just be. This is also then the Hindu concept of “Maya” or illusion.
So in order to answer those questions to ourselves, and to convey it to the world, we must use our Imagination. Whether we answer those questions unconsciously (thus through our conditioned/conventional/inherited concepts) or consciously by questioning our reality, the mechanism we use is our imagination. We either live through the mass conditioned Imagination, or we create our own by questioning.
Yet, so often I have been sneered at with words like, “It’s just your Imagination, or dream on …” and only when I could prove that what was “just my Imagination” in concrete terms, was it excepted. To deal with the general skeptical attitude towards what I could see so clearly in “mind’s eye” I had to learn to take what I first perceived in my Imagination, keep it there in secret, until I had fully developed it, so that other’s could see its relevance.
But just what is Imagination? The word Imagination comes from the Latin word Imago; an image or optical counterpart of a thing. Integral to the Imagination is the ability “to see” whether it is conceptual or optically.
“Imagination is what makes our sensory experience meaningful, enabling us to interpret and make sense of it, whether from a conventional perspective or from a fresh, original, individual one. It is what makes perception more than the mere physical stimulation of sense organs. It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another. Thus, imagination makes possible all our thinking about what is, what has been, and, perhaps most important, what might be.
Imagery is not only associated with fantasy and the imaginary, but also, and perhaps more importantly, with prototypically cognitive functions such as memory, perception, and thought. Although imagery occurs in all sensory modes, most work in philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science has (perhaps regrettably) concentrated upon visual imagery. “
Nigel J.T Thomas
The Human consciousness is capable of receiving images on many levels. The phenomena through which we receive images are; mental images, memories, dreams, visions, hallucinations, fantasy, Imagination.
Some of them are not completely distinct from one another. Mario Betti explains it in the following terms.
Mental images are pictures we make of our perceptions. They are pictures that stick when we engage our senses and bring the diversified impressions of these to consciousness through our thinking. The table in front of us, the flower by the wayside, the rustling sound nearby; all these are formed in us into mental images, though this takes place so fast that we are totally unaware of how it happens.
Our memory can take hold of perceptions that have sunk into our unconsciousness and fill them out again as pictures or sounds. Having now become mental images they can be of service to our thinking. The whole range of our sense impressions can be thus recaptured anew. Each memory is fresh each time, even though the perception belongs way back in time.
According to Herman Poppelbaum,:” A naïve conception of memory thinks of it as some sort of file index in the soul, where we only need to pick out the correct picture from a large storage bin and lift it to the light. But recollection is a creative deed, a re-imaging, not a simple act of picking up. Something is repictured which before this had ceased to be a picture. The intangible becomes tangible again.”
The same concept also underlies dreams, visions, hallucinations, and fantasy. However varied and colourful, grand and sublime these dreams, visions and fantasies may be, they are all in a certain respect ‘body bound’ in so far as they all arise out of the almost inexhaustible treasure of all our stored-up earthly experiences. (And it seems also from those of our ancestors). All these phenomena, however transparent they may be, are always tied up with sense perceptions, and even if subtle beyond recognition they are the expression of the human bodily constitution and its formative forces. But then the question comes to mind; “What do blind people dream of?”
From research done with blind people and their dreaming, it appears that those who have been blind from birth or very early childhood have just as vivid dreams as the rest of us. Their dreams, however, are based upon the non-visual senses: particularly smell and sound, but also to the sense of touch.
Visual Images according to studies come purely from our perception of sight. Those who have partial sight, who can perceive light and dark, for example, universally report that visual images in their dreams appear to them as they would in waking life. “They can see things in dreams with no more clarity or detail than they could see in wakefulness, yet they know the details of the dream environment through the integration of information from other sensory systems. Uniquely visual imagery is dependent on uniquely visual experience. We therefore strongly believe that the term visual imagery should be reserved for imagery that is phenomenologically similar to objects seen with one’s eyes, the only sensory receptors capable of receiving and encoding the information conveyed exclusively in light waves. Nancy H. Kerr G. and William Domhoff
Dream studies done with those with the lack of visual imagery, who are blind before age four, also affirm evidence for the idea that dreaming is a gradual cognitive achievement that requires the development of visual and spatial skills and other forms of imagistic skills as well. There seem to be no evidence that the unconscious (or subconscious) mind holds any sort of store of visual symbols independently of the brain’s development of systems for interpreting visual input through visual stimulation from birth on. Without that kind of stimulation, the brain has no ability to imagine images.
However a blind person can form a concept of a visual image although they have never, seen or perceived it with their other sense perceptions. ‘Blind people who know, for example, that a star appears as a small spot in the night sky may include stars in an image of a nighttime scene. Although the blind person’s conception of a star may derive only from descriptions, he or she understands it as a visual phenomenon and labels it accordingly. Likewise, blind people describing dream imagery favor words such as visualize to explain their awareness of the detail of the dream environment without having to move around or touch particular aspects of the dream setting.”
Are we not then like blind people dreaming? What we think is our reality are concepts of amalgams of our sensual experiences in life; concepts of reality that we form through our imagination. Although we have often heard Jean-Jacques words of;” The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless,” but is it actually true? From what we have seen from about the world of Imagination, our scope of imagination is in general not boundless, it has limits. These limits, our boundaries of our imagination are linked to both our personal memes and the conventional memes of both our past and present. However we all feel there are no limits to our imagination, why? How many would actually dare to push the boundaries of their imagination? It is as if we are afraid even to push the boundaries of imagination.
I know that one Film Production Company has the slogan,” What you can imagine, we can produce.” Wow, you would think, anything is possible, but really they know that what the average person imagines has often been done already, or does not stretch very far to make it impossible to produce. Now think back to what was said about blind people dreaming; They can see things in dreams with no more clarity or detail than they could see in wakefulness, yet they know the details of the dream environment through the integration of information from other sensory systems.
That is exactly what we do in imaging if we do not stretch the boundaries of our imagination. In limiting our imagination we limit what is possible in reality. Most of the time we are not even aware that we put a cap on our imagination. So actually how are we able to move beyond the boundaries of our imagination? We as a specie has clearly done so in our past to get where we are now. I personally doubt whether we would have done so if it was not for the adventurous spirit and courage of a few individuals, who dared, in spite of ridicule by the masses, and even losing their lives because of they dared push the boundaries of the imagination. If we look further into the lives of those who pushed the boundaries of our imagination, what made them risk even death to bring their vision to the world and help as progress, see a bigger picture?
Jung calls it his inner deamon, a driving passion, something that pushed him to question the boundaries of his imagination. Geniuses all possess an intense dedication to a particular field that borderlines on obsession. Coupled with this they are able to visualize what we cannot. So if a few individuals did not have the passion and courage to see beyond our habitual perceptions of reality, we as a specie would never have progressed much further than our fellow creatures. Strangely however, although we admire those with genius that helped changed our paradigms of reality, they were not accepted before it became part of everyday life. Although we can see that the ability to push the boundaries of our vision as essential to both our potential and ability to progress, it is feared as well. Why the fear of imagination when we actually know it is what makes us human and that it is within our imagination where our very potential lies? Could it be that we are merely conditioned to fear change because it challenges the accepted norms, and we are afraid not be accepted by the “tribe”, thereby finding ourselves in exile? It seems as if this fear is stronger than our will to explore our potential as human beings.
So in reality, the progress of humanity can be seen as the “happy accident” that a few people were born with a passion, and the courage and dedication to pursue it. Or was it Divine intervention? For me Lorentz’s Chaos theory shows that there is no proof of absolute chance of unrestrained randomness. Let me again quote one of my favorite quotes;
The pursuit of knowledge always takes place within a given paradigm, within a conceptual matrix – a womb that provides an intellectually nourishing structure, that fosters growth and increasing complexity and sophistication – until, gradually that structure is experienced as constricting, a limitation, a prison, producing a tension of irresolvable contradictions, and finally a crisis is reached. Then some inspired Promethean genius comes along and is graced with an inner breakthrough to a new vision that gives the scientific mind a new sense of being cognitively connected – reconnected – to the world: an intellectual revolution occurs, and a new paradigm is born. Here we see why such geniuses regularly experience their intellectual breakthrough as a profound illumination, a revelation of the divine creative principle itself, as with Newton’s exclamation to God, “I think Thy thoughts after Thee!” For the human mind is following the numinous archetypal path that is unfolding within it.
And here we can see why the same paradigm, such as the Aristotelian or Newtonian, is perceived as liberation at one time and then a constriction, a prison, at another. For the birth of every new paradigm is also the conception in a new conceptual matrix, which begins the process of gestation, growth, crisis, and revolution all over again. Each paradigm is a stage in an unfolding evolutionary sequence, and when the that paradigm has fulfilled its purpose, when it has been developed and exploited to its fullest extent, then it loses its numinosity, it ceases to be libidinanlly charged, it becomes felt as oppressive, limiting, opaque, something to be overcome – while the new paradigm that is emerging is felt as a liberating birth into a new, luminously intelligible universe.The Passion Of The Western Mind – Richard Tarnas
So if there is a Divine Element, or an Intelligent Conscious Mind that leads our evolution by creating “happy accidents” that changes our course of development, logically (my logic anyway), It speaks to us through our Imaginative Consciousness. That very part of us that we ridicule so often. Actually our much cherished intellect is just a mechanism to interpret our Imaginings into concrete reality. Let’s explore this bit further; by looking at the phenomena of the Idiot Savant, generally called autism. Dr. Lee E. Warren, gives the following interpretation;
“The word idiot usually refers to a simpleton; in contrast to the word “savant” in French that means “learned one.” Idiot savants are a subgroup of a class of people called idiots with an IQ of about 25. Idiot savants are a group of humans that are incapable of learning, writing or reading, yet they have unlimited access to specific, accurate knowledge in the fields of mathematics, music, and other precise areas. Now the irony of an idiot-savant is that this group of individuals does not acquire knowledge by learning as the average human does. They mysteriously ‘know’ explicit, exact, correct information. One may wonder: “How do idiots savants know certain information or possess certain skills?” By whatever means they obtain this information, they undermine current definitions about intelligence. Does their knowledge show that a source of intelligence exists? Is it possible to tap into this source and not know of its existence?
Dr. Joseph C. Pearce states the following about the general nature of the idiot savant. “so far as can be observed, the savant has not acquired, could not acquire, and is quite incapable of acquiring, the information that he so liberally dispenses. If we furnish the savant with the proper stimulus, a question about the specialty, he gives the appropriate response, but can’t furnish himself with that stimulus, can’t develop the capacity as an intelligence and can’t move beyond his narrow limits (Evolution’s End, p. 5).”
There are all types of theories that try to explain how an illiterate and untrainable idiot can have access to unlimited accurate information in a certain field. Some theories try to explain the idiot savants by genetic and biological abnormalities. Howard Garndner in his book Frames of Mind believes that genetic and environment factors create idiot savants. Professor Garndner thinks that arithmetic calculations of the idiot savant are: “based upon the relative sparing or proliferation of certain brain areas: like hyperlexia, it represents an automatic, impossible-to-stop-process (p. 156),” This theory still does not explain how the people obtained this knowledge.
Other modern theories use the principles of quantum physics, specificallyBell’s theorem, to explain idiot savants… Simply put, these theories define intelligence as “fields of potential,” in the same way that magnetic fields interact with iron filings. In this theory, an idiot savant’s brain receives this information directly from a non-local source forming these “fields of knowledge.”
Quoting Dr. Joseph C. Pearce in his book about the cause of the idiots savant, he says an idiot savant “is pre-disposed to the intelligence of his specialty through some early infant-childhood experience that activates a “field of neurons (brain cells) ” capable of translating from field of intelligence,” within narrow limits (Evolution’s End, p. 6).”
John Davidson in his book “The Formative Mind” writes about an idiot savant fromCanada, Daniel. “Daniel’s forte is making electronic toys. But his methodology is bizarre. He simply sticks a transistor here, a resistor there, a capacitor somewhere else, a bulb in one corner and a switch in another. He does not even wire them together. They appear to be randomly glued on to a piece of Perspex. Yet when he switches them on, the bulb lights up. In fact, when anyone switches them on, even when he is not in the room, and he is involved with something else, they light up. So any constant psychokinetic influence from Daniel’s mind is ruled out.
Clearly, Daniel can see, in his mind, the inner structure of energy patterns at the subatomic and vacuum state levels. Unhampered by preconceived ideas concerning what is and what is not possible, and working along the mind energy hierarchy into physical manifestation, he is simply rearranging the energy patterns of physical manifestation to do his bidding. From his point of view, he is simply playing with his toys and wants them to light up. With both a direct mental perception and manipulative capability, he arranges the structure of the vacuum state and it’s manifested subatomic particles to take on the patterns he desires.
Some of the scientists who have witnessed Daniel’s toys in operation and even taken them to their laboratories for testing, have been reduced to tears, stating that all that they had been taught and believed in appeared to have been turned upside down. – Perhaps, although he cannot explain himself as we might like, he is also trying to tell us something…”
I believe he is. So often we ignore people with disabilities, reject those who “dance to a different drumbeat”, but as we have seen with both Blind people and Idiot Savants; they are showing us perspectives on our visions of reality that we could not have seen otherwise. They are giving us insights into our potential as Human beings. How clear it is how our differences help to reveal aspects of our reality. Again however, I must ask are these incidences just “happy accidents”?
According to Rudolf Steiner, in the development of our consciousness we passed through at first what can be classified as the Unconscious Clairvoyance, then on to “The Age of Reason” in which we find ourselves now. The stage of Unconscious Clairvoyance in my opinion would correspond to the ancient Matriarchal period and the Age of Reason to the Patriarchal phase. At present we are finding ourselves in a phase of transition. We are looking for a new paradigm.
“It was held to be a significant statement by a significant figure of the Enlightenment when people were told in the eighteenth century: Fellow humans have the courage to make use of your power of reason. – Today an even more important statement must be heard in the soul, saying: Fellow humans have the courage to treat your concepts and ideas as the starting point of your clairvoyance. “Rudolf Steiner. – According to Steiner human ideas come from a supersensible, spiritual knowing.
The old clairvoyance entailed being subject to the fate of the particular group or Belief that you belonged to. Whereas using reason brought a freedom to the individual to reason for him/herself. For me it also corresponds to the difference between what was written about the Pythoness of Delphi and the Sybil. The Pythoness served as medium of possession by the god ofDelphi, she herself had no freedom in the interpretation of the words that came through her. This also corresponds to the Idiot Savant;
“Idiot savants also represent people who have experienced certain types of spiritual phenomenon, but are often paralyzed by their experience because they do not have a context within to place it. The Spirit has spoken to them and they are able to repeat what they heard, but they have no understanding of what they are uttering nor can they grow from this experience. Until they can resolve what has happened to them, they remain unable to digest the essence of the experience. … Idiot savants have access to unlimited knowledge by the Spirit (Universal Mind). The problem with idiot savants is that they are unable to grow or to create a product as a result of this knowledge in contrast to a genius or prodigy. “Dr. Lee E. Warren
What we are looking for in our new possible paradigm then is represented to me by the Sibyl, and genius or prodigy, who stands as such between the two worlds of the old Clairvoyance and the modern mind of reason, he/she interprets how what they see will be brought into this world, by having the courage and passion to do so..
“…while losing nothing of his or her inner freedom and full wakefulness, can attain a modern form of ‘clairvoyance’, namely, Imagination.” Mario Betti Within this concept also lays the concept of “The Sacred Marriage” – Hieros Gamos. But let me explain further.
It appears that the process of using our cognitive ability to perceive the world in itself creates “another”, which is at the same time ourselves. This the relates back to where I began this piece on Imagination, that our very perception of reality is based on our ability to Imagine, and that ability originates from perceiving ourselves as separate to the outer world, it also requires that we have an understanding that we have both an inner and outer world. To perceive one can say is to form a relationship with what is in fact not visible, between the inner and outer worlds. The “I” forms a relationship with the invisible to give birth to the other. Just as with a romantic relationship, the more intimate you are with the other, the deeper the mutual understanding and the greater the possibility of growth…
You do not have to stretch your mind much to see that this is in fact a relationship with the Divine, or as far as our understanding of the Divine stretches. A relationship with the Divine is impossible to Imagine through ordinary thinking. Ordinary thinking happens automatically but true Imaginative thinking (Communion really) requires intense concentration, and a thorough self-knowledge – an emotional intelligence – , as not to get lost in either doubts, or self-aggrandizement.
“Behind each mental image there is a particular concept, like a common denominator, the homogeneous originator of all the possible mental images. – think of a square. There are innumerable possible squares – that is to say mental images – but only one concept ‘square’, which must not be thought of pictorially but described in words; a square is a quadrangle with four sides of equal length and four right angles. This description does not restrict it to one particular image. The description of a concept is at the same time its explanation. By thinking it through I immediately understand the meaning of concept. This understanding purely by means of the concept or the conceptual complex goes beyond merely seeing it as a mental image. It is a statement that sheds light on the respective concept from within, thus including all the possible mental images of it. You are becoming aware here of the pure light of consciousness, even if you are concentrating on an absolute commonplace thought. If you now intensify your concentration, you can experience this meaning, this statement – this inner world – as the expression of a quite definitive force that is dynamically creative in the extreme and with which you can unite, and this force manifests as a quite definitive concrete spiritual being; the being of the respective idea…. It is generally speaking my intense inner activity that makes possible the imaginative revelation of a spiritual being.” Mario Bretti
Spiritual can also be seen as pure creative energies, or the “fields of potential” into which we can stumble upon unconsciously or by through conscious effort. The more focused we are the deeper we can go. Most of what we consider as Imagination and Fantasy reflects the inner world of perceptions of an individual, however there are times when an artist, poet, musician, dancer, writer etc, transcends their personal boundaries (body bound) and connects with the Archetypal Oneness to produce a work of art that reaches into the true Imaginal state of consciousness, and brings to us the true potential of what we are capable of. ‘In real works of art, subject and object merge together.” – consciousness without an object.
From the Universal Mind and casual realm, to the physical human mind and its outward expression as the physical body, Mind is the inward blueprint. Whether we are waggling a finger or observing the forms and structures in our bodies and the rest of nature, the Formative Mind lies behind the forms and activities we perceive. Whether we are trying to understand the subconscious psychology of ourselves or of our fellow humans, whether we are dealing with psychosomatic effects; even when we are brought face to face to face with the miraculous and the supernatural – it is always the Formative Mind at work. If we do not understand its operations, it is because of own reduced level of consciousness, our own level of perception, and therefore we are confused. Then, slowly and slowly the way in which it all happens becomes clear to us. As we discover how we are put together, we automatically discover how the ‘universe’ is constructed, for the one is a part of the other, our human form being the most amazingly constructed microcosm. Then the true nature of what the ‘universe’ really is also becomes clear.” John Davidson
“What is seen and experienced in the spirit can only be conveyed in picture-form, that is, in Imaginations through which Inspirations speaks which in turn proceed from spiritual reality of being experienced in Intuition.” Steiner
For us to truly reach into the potential of the Imaginations we have to go beyond our preconceived images of everything. To that brings a personal stress because it means going into exile from conventional norms, but only then can we undergo true transformation in the Hermetic vessel of the in between. In the Imaginal world, neither birth nor death exists but the one transforms into the other. Although we may experience what feels like a death because what we thought was our reality no longer exists, it is a transformation in perceiving what we thought impossible. That is why Sophia also represents relationship with the other, the Beloved because only by loving can we find the courage to enter into exile and eventually be reunited with the Beloved in the Sacred Marriage, between the known and the unknown.
For us to truly reach into the potential of the Imagination we have to go beyond our preconceived images of everything. However, doing that brings a personal stress because it means going into exile from conventional norms, but only then can we undergo true transformation in the Hermetic vessel of the in between. In the Imaginal world, neither birth nor death exists but the one transforms into the other. Although we may experience what feels like a death because what we thought was our reality no longer exists, it is a transformation in perceiving what we thought impossible.
We live in a world that is hungry for images, and this seems to be a reflection of our present state in our evolutionary consciousness. However, we are also caught in a world of preconceived images as provided by our media and conventional empirical thinking. We hunger for acceptance, but in our hunger for acceptance we limit our individual development by placing ourselves in boxes of conventional images.
It is in our ability to imagine that we project a light into a possible future. What it reveals to us allows us to make choices, in so doing we transcend boundaries. It is through our ability to imagine that we can see the walls of our imaginary box of conditioning dissolve around us. Imagination is what helps us bring opposites together, it forms the basis of our relationship between the past and the future, between the known and unknown, between the I and the other.
What Imagination “… represents is the capacity of the mind to penetrate through the images it creates. This penetration involves activation of thinking, what I will call inquiry. When inquiry begins, we notice that we have questions and wonder–about everything. This inquiry begins a journey in which circulation begins. As we begin to question, we feel ourselves begin to move. With this movement we feel resistance from others. We begin to notice hostility to our questioning. And so the adventure begins. This adventure culminates in moving, in a circuit, or spiral which has the effect of radically altering the landscape of the ordinary. This adventure is the only way that power can be effectively unleashed and used by the individual for the restoration of authentic
community and the healthy transformation of society–one which fosters health and nourishes the fulfillment of individual potential. “ – Kathleen Damiani
… be it an idea, or be it life in becoming …
Drops of Life. From “Sikkim” series. 1924 – Nicholas Roerich
As most of us know, there are some people who believe that there is life after death; heaven and hell, or reincarnation, and there are others that believe that when you die that’s it, you are no more, you as an entity has ceased to exist. Those that believe that there is nothing after death say show us the concrete evidence. O.K as yet there is no concrete Scientifically publishable evidence, however, then I ask myself, if I were to believe that there is nothing after death, I cease to exist why then would I feel any fear of death? Yes, I do not want to die a horrible death, but why should I fear death itself? If I would cease to exist then I would simply feel nothing, be aware of nothing, feel no regrets, no pain, nothing. Then why should I fear death?
Those that adamantly say there is no consciousness after death then should not fear death, surely? But most do? Do they fear nothing then?
Heaven and hell? Quite frankly the concept of heaven always sounded really boring to me, and hell, well what could be worse than the cruelty of man against man? If there is a hell, then surely it is right here. We punish ourselves much more than any loving God would.
Reincarnation? When I first heard about the concept of reincarnation, it made sense to my logical reasoning mind from the point of view that it help to explain the senseless aspects of life. Let’s face it, from a reasoning perspective life is not fair, and it is way too short to even nearly reach our full potential. Just when most people have finally figured out, what are the rules of life, they must prepare to die. It just makes no sense to me. What exactly is does the concept of reincarnation entail? Most people will immediately say “Karma; You reap as you sow.” But at the same time they will also think of an individual entity reaping the Karma of their own past actions, however that particular concept of reincarnation is a New Age Western concept.
“ … according to the Eastern concept of reincarnation there cannot be any personal element that could wander from one life to the next. However, its modern version is substantially different from what Eastern religions stated. Far from being a torment out of which man has to escape by any price through abolishing personhood, New Age thinking considers reincarnation as an eternal progression of the soul toward higher levels of spiritual existence. Influenced by the Christian cultural context but totally opposing Eastern classic ideology, many consider today that the entity that reincarnates is our soul, which preserves the attributes of personhood from one life to another. This compromise obviously emerged from the desire to adopt the reincarnation doctrine to Western thought. The concept of an impersonal atman reincarnating was too abstract to be easily accepted, so Westerners needed a milder version of this doctrine. Although this tendency proves the soul’s yearning for a personal destiny, it doesn’t bear too much resemblance to classical Eastern spirituality, which rejects it as totally perverted.” Ernest Valea
Other concepts of reincarnation also exist, for example;
“In the Dahomeyan conception, one of the components, the djoto, comes from an ancestor after his ‘canonization’ as tutelary vodoun. That soul is reincarnated in his family or clan, but this is not a reincarnation like that of Hindu wheel of life or samsara. It is not a rebirth in a newborn or other creature. It is a superposition or composite state with another existing person, a member of the family or clan. It is the shadow component of the ancestor, that invisible force field that enters into modulation with the body ‘double’ of the individual chosen to be the heirs of that spirit. It should be seen as a spiritual power reclaimed by the family.”
That particular concept is especially interesting for me from a genetic point of view.
Then there is the reincarnation concept of an over-soul as such, which sees each of us as a splinter soul experiencing a dominant personality type, which leads to specific experiences that another personality could not have. The experiences each personality has feeds back to the over-soul, and becomes part of the universal consciousness. This particular concept of reincarnation immediately brings to mind Jung’s concept “ collective unconsciousness.”
Religious concepts and scientific concepts for that matter all grow out of an existing paradigm, which in turn evolved out of a previous paradigm. My own concept of reincarnation and life after death, have equally evolved as my personal paradigms evolved.
I was about 5 or 6 years old when I was suddenly struck by the idea that I could be born into another body, in much worse circumstances. At that age I had no idea of the concept of reincarnation, having been raised in a strictly Christian environment. I also became aware of memories that did not come from my experience in my present body. I was suddenly seized by a feeling of panic, I did not want to be born again. But then my thoughts turned to Christ on the cross, and I thought I understood what redemption means; it means that if you embraced Jesus then you don’t have to be reborn again. So I really tried to be a good Christian. ( I described that part of my journey in “For fear of Snakes” ) Christianity, however did not satisfy my spiritual hunger and left me with unanswered questions that the ministers just answered with:”God moves in mysterious ways.”
I first heard about Yoga and meditation when I was about 13, which revealed to me that there exist different concepts of life and death than what I was taught through Christianity. At about the same time I discovered discovered Edgar Cayce, and was introduced to the New Age concept of reincarnation.
Does my personal memories then serve as a personal proof to me as an individual that reincarnation exist? Are children’s memories of past lives, cases in which a subject began to speak a previously unknown foreign tongue (xenoglossy) proof? Is the fact that even when the conscious mind is skeptical about reincarnation, the unconscious mind will almost always produce a “past life story”, if stimulated in the right way, normally under deep hypnosis, proof? So I thought until I started further investigations into other concepts.
In most cases the recall of what appears to the subjects as one or more past lives requires some altered state of consciousness. According to Ervin Laszlo, past live experiences in young children are due to somewhat different physiological conditions that those experienced by adults.
“The neural networks of children are permanently in the alpha-state of the adult altered states of consciousness: until the age of five or six years, the beta waves of normal waking consciousness are not present in the brain. Immature brains are not always able to discriminate the signals that convey the experiences of a brief lifetime from sufficiently isomorphic signals that convey experiences of other persons. Thus children may become aware of images and impressions that are not traces of their own experiences, but traces of the experiences of people whose brain states happen to match theirs.”
Ervin Laszlo also provides an interesting Theory relating to what he calls “Transpersonal Recall” which includes telepathic communication between individuals, past life recollections, natural healing, and simultaneous insights among individuals, as well as between cultures.
“We interpret transpersonal memory as the expansion of ‘bandwidth’ of the brain’s psi-field receptivity. The psi-field concept is very close to Jung’s original concept of the ‘collective unconsciousness.’Archetypes according to Jung arise from a vast, limitless unconscious process shared by all humanity, emerging from accumulated experience of thousand of years of shared history. They are due to the gradual modification of genetic structure in individuals allowing personal experience to incorporate ever more elements of the collective unconscious.”
According to Laszlo the psi-field is a non-spatiotemporal field that is the encoder and transmitter of all events in spacetime, including the neural network dynamics that underlie cognitive processes in human brains. This of course also relate to Sheldrake’s “Morphogenic Fields” and to the classic “Akashic Records”.
So the ‘past-life’ memories that I have had may be someone else’s memories that I accessed when I was a child, or when I was in a an altered state of consciousness. These memories would particularly relate to a present psychological state that I had at the time. This I can find plausible for it was striking for me that the details of the memories were not as important as the emotions that I experienced. The emotions that I experienced in those memories related directly to present emotions I was experiencing. It is furthermore interesting that it has been found by Jungian and transpersonal psychotherapists who uses, “regression therapy”, that the images and events recalled by patients frequently relieves traumas and neurosis.
So in conclusion in regard to reincarnation; whether it is real, my imagination, or someone else’s memory, or an inherited memory, I would like to keep an open mind. What will it help me now if once upon a time I was a King, or a really bad person. Right now, I am what I am. Right now I am alive, and right now a myriad of possibilities are open to me. Right now I have the opportunity to let go of past hurts, and mistakes, mine or my ancestors’ , use what I have learned to decide what is I want from the future. What kind of life do I want to live, and build around me. What is important to me is the wonder of my mind.
“Consciousness, when seen in its purified essence, is One, undivided. It is the sustainer an creator of pattern, of energy, like the ocean supports the waves, and the waves are never separate from the ocean. But fundamentally and in essence, consciousness is formless and uncreated, a drop of the Supreme Being. … We can intuitively perceive the relevance in coming to grips with the fact that all sensory experience is subjective, incommunicable and in our own minds – that the apparently outward world is thus within our own mind structure. With the body as only an outer shell of the Formative Mind’s patterning process, we can understand the integral blueprinting mechanisms by which it is formed or patterned and how our whole existence is really psychosomatic – mind and body are part and parcel of the same process of Mind.” John Davidson – The Secret of the Creative Vacuum
One thing is clear to me and that is that we are all inter-connected, all of life is inter-connected and that whatever I do, does not just affect me, but also infinity. We each have an awesome responsibility, and although I might appear small and insignificant in the greater scheme of things, who knows how far the influence of my actions may stretch into the future. Even if I cease to exist in my present form, some part of me will always exist, waiting for the right moment like a seed, to germinate.
“ Both death and rebirth in the casual world are in thought. Casual-bodied beings feast only on the ambrosia of eternally new knowledge. They drink from the springs of peace, roam on the trackless soil of perceptions, swim in the ocean-endless of bliss. Lo! See their bright thought bodies zoom past trillions of Spirit-created planets, fresh bubbles of universes, wisdom-stars, spectral dreams of golden nebulae on the skyey bosom of Infinity…Behold the butterfly of Onipresence, its wings etched with stars and moons and suns! “
Autobiography of a Yogi” – Yogananda
Bridge of Glory – Nicholas Roerich